Berlin To Add Concerts For Second Fridays

BERLIN – Organizers are seeking to add new life to
Berlin’s Second Friday late openings with a bid to attract music lovers to the
center of the town.

Main Street coordinator Michael Day asked the Berlin Mayor
and Council on Monday night for permission to hold concerts on Pitt St.,
between Williams St. and Main St., from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. every second Friday.
The street would be blocked off for a stage and space for spectators.

The concerts were originally set to be staged in front of
the Atlantic Hotel, but Berlin business owners felt it was too close to the
southern end of the business district. The parking lot that hosts the Farmer’s
Market was deemed too far in the other direction.

“We wanted to be more in the center of the two block
merchant district,” said Day. “We’re going to see if that location works. It’s
sort of a big experiment.”

The event will begin in April and run every month until
October. The May concert will take place in front of the Atlantic Hotel to
avoid blocking a nearby florist’s shop during the Mother’s Day rush.

The council agreed to the street blockage after some
debate.

“We definitely had some issues with the suggestion,” said
Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing. “We want to go ahead and look at it.”

Local merchants and the fire department and emergency
services have been notified, said Downing.

“It’s got to be a major consideration,” said Berlin Mayor
Tom Cardinale.

Any time a street is blocked, the fire department is
advised, according to Downing.

“The merchants downtown were the ones who brought it up
and wanted it moved,” said Day.

Town officials were pleased the issues were resolved.

“Seems like a reasonable compromise,” said Council Vice
President Gee Williams.

If the experiment is unsuccessful in April, the concert
site will be moved, Day said.

Bands will include bluegrass, gospel, and folk. The first
performance, April 13, will be bluegrass band Country Grass. In July, the town
will host a talent search.

So far, Second Fridays have been struggling to find a
customer base. Some merchants have made the effort to stay open later and hold
art exhibits, but Second Fridays have not grown to levels organizers hoped. The
event is meant to build on the popular bi-annual Arts Nights. Day said gallery
tours are in the works, in addition to music.

Day is also looking for street musicians to play around
the downtown area on those evenings.

“I
think it’s a great idea,” said Council member Ellen Lang. 

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